October 29, 2014

10:58 AM | Core Econ: a free economics textbook
Today I want to tell you guys about, a free (although you do have to register) textbook my buddy Suresh Naidu is using this semester to teach out of and is also contributing to, along with a bunch of other economists. It’s super cool, and I wish a class like that had been available […]
9:39 AM | Improving behavioural economics
A neat new paper has appeared on SSRN from Owen Jones – Why Behavioral Economics Isn’t Better, and How it Could Be (HT: Emanuel Derman via Dennis Dittrich). My favourite part is below. As I have said many times before, giving a bias a name is not theory. [S]aying that the endowment effect is caused by Loss […]

October 28, 2014

2:50 PM | Daily Pump Trap: 10/28/14 edition
A few of the positions posted on the C&EN Jobs website recently:St. Louis, MO: Monsanto desires a Ph.D. chemist to perform research into microbial formulations -- sounds fascinating. (What kind of technology is this aimed at?)Silver Spring, MD: WSSC is a municipal water utility; they're looking for a laboratory QA/QC position. 61-103k for a B.S., 5+ years experience.West Springfield, MA: Cyalume is, once again, looking for a senior chemist at its facility. High turnover?Ever wonder what an […]
2:40 PM | Ivory Filter Flask: 10/28/14 edition
A few of the academically-related posted posted recently at C&EN Jobs:New York, NY: Columbia University is looking for an assistant professor of chemical biology. Also, a professor of organic chemistry is being sought. (Interesting addition of "non-tenured associate professor".)Durham, NC: This Duke University "therapeutic bioengineering" professorship sounds fascinating.And across the way...: UNC - Chapel Hill is looking for a M.S./Ph.D. chemist for a lab coordinator position.Urbana, […]
11:15 AM | The war against taxes (and the unmarried)
The American Enterprise Institute, conservative think-tank, is releasing a report today. It’s called For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America (I will add a link when I can find it online), and there is also an event in DC today from 9:30am til 12:15pm that will be livestreamed. The report takes a look […]

October 27, 2014

3:40 PM | Someone really doesn't like Fazlul Sarkar
For those of you following along at home, Retraction Watch has been covering the story of Wayne State professor Fazlul Sarkar. Thanks to anonymous commenters at PubPeer uncovering some obvious image manipulation issues, he's had a distinguished professor position at the University of Mississippi withdrawn. Because of this, he's subpoenaing PubPeer to make them give up the IP addresses of the commenters so that he can sue them. As laughable as that is, I note this little tidbit […]
3:17 PM | Any good theories about the airbag recall?
So I have a theory on the airbag recall which came from this NPR story:SHEPARDSON: Right. The issue is the propellant in the airbags, the material that actually explodes the airbag into your face, you know, milliseconds after sensors detect a crash is about to happen or has happened, in some cases is damaged and as a result - and what investigators believe is that's mostly linked to high humidity areas where - so in other words, after being exposed to humidity, they're more likely to have […]
3:10 PM | A safety letter on TMS-azide
This week's C&EN has a safety letter from the University of Minnesota's Taton group that had an accident with TMS-azide that I've covered here. Don't miss the follow-up by Neal Langerman below: We recently conducted a synthesis of azidotrimethylsilane (TMS-N3) that resulted in an explosion, significant damage to the reaction hood, and injuries to a student researcher. Although it is still not entirely clear what caused the explosion, it seems likely that the reaction and isolation […]
2:58 PM | Nice try, India
I always enjoy reading Rick Mullin's looks at the fine chemicals industry. He provides a few good chuckles this week when he visited CPhI and talked with India's joint secretary of Commerce & Industry, Sudhanshu Pandey: India’s pharmaceutical industry sees related problems with regulators who take process-oriented, rather than risk-based, approaches in their oversight. “Process is important to ensuring the quality of medicines, but there are some processes where […]
2:54 PM | This week's C&EN
This week's selection:Pretty awesome story about snake venom research by Celia Henry Arnaud. Was not aware of the term "gain of function" research, but the Feds aren't doing it right now. (story by Andrea Widener.) A PAC for scientists to go into Congress? Very interesting. (article by Jessica Morrison)Carmen Drahl writes on "Pumpkin Spice Flavor" - tasty! Carl Djerassi writes on the Pill, naturally. 
1:24 PM | Guest post: Clustering and predicting NYC taxi activity
This is a guest post by Deepak Subburam, a data scientist who works at Tessellate. Greetings fellow Mathbabers! At Cathy’s invitation, I am writing here about, a public service web app my co-founder and I have developed. It overlays on a Google map around you estimated taxi activity, as expected number of passenger pickups […]
10:05 AM | An updated economics and evolutionary biology reading list and a collection of book reviews
I have updated my economics and evolutionary biology reading list, with a few new additions including John Coates’s The Hour Between Dog and Wolf, Gregory Clark’s new book on social mobility and Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind. As before, I have been selective, adding only the best books (or articles) in the area. That said, I […]

October 26, 2014

3:18 PM | Taking a short break--no post this week
I'm taking a short break. I expect to post again on Sunday, November 2.

October 25, 2014

11:43 AM | Aunt Pythia’s advice
You guys know how much Aunt Pythia loves you, right (answer: a ton)? OK, good. Because that means I can be honest with you. The truth is, I’ve been getting some very weird questions recently, and I’ve had to throw out a bunch of them, sifting through the weeds to find some tulips. It’s not […]
8:07 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Cooperation in humans versus apes. In praise of pilots. Are women better decision makers? You can ask about some sex differences. Amazon is doing us a favour. Goodbye book publishers. The logic of failure. The Behavioural Insights Team has lunch with Walter Mischel. Mischel’s work is fantastic and his new book is on […]

October 24, 2014

11:29 PM | ACS Presidential Candidate Peter Dorhout on #chemjobs issues
I recently sent an e-mail to Professor (and dean) Peter Dorhout, who is currently running for the ACS President-Elect position to see if he was interested in answering last year's questions for ACS presidential candidates.He responded this evening. His unedited response is below:CJ: Which ACS program do you think best helps the job-seeking ACS member? How would you improve it?Prof. Dorhout: Over the past few years, the careers office of ACS has been retooling and refocusing itself after several […]
3:37 PM | ACS Presidential Candidate Donna Nelson on #chemjobs issues
I recently sent an e-mail to Professor Donna Nelson, who is currently running for the ACS President-Elect position to see if she was interested in answering last year's questions for ACS presidential candidates. Here is a portion of the e-mail I sent: Below are the questions that my readers and I have come up with. If you need any clarification, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I will run your unedited response as soon as you give me permission to (and not a moment before!)  1. […]
3:37 PM | Job posting: Senior Scientist II, AbbVie, Lake Forest, IL
Via Crash, I think it is interesting how specific some of these process positions are getting these days: AbbVie is seeking a creative and highly motivated chemist to work in its Catalysis Group to conduct research and development of state-of-the-art catalytic methods (e.g., C-H activation, C-X cross coupling, asymmetric hydrogenation, organocatalysis, photoredox catalysis, etc.) for applications spanning the continuum of pharmaceutical discovery through development and commercialization […]
3:27 PM | Anyone know the answer to this question on SDS format?
What do resellers or distributors of chemicals need to do, with respect to safety data sheets? Are there any rules (GHS or other) that say the SDS has to come from the company that physically made the solution? Do safety data sheets need to include the reseller/distributor's company information on the sheet, the actual manufacturer that makes the chemicals, and/or both? Answers accepted by e-mail or in the comments - thanks! 
2:49 PM | UK labor law is different, apparently
An interesting forward from an anonymous source in the UK: Male Laboratory Technicians, £17,000, Permanent, Guildford I am looking to fill two lab vacancies for a local pharmaceutical company. The company specialises in research and development and is going through a period of growth. This is a great opportunity to begin a scientific career.... ...These positions are only open to male applicants, this is due to the exposure of teratogenic drugs which women should not use.I […]
2:31 PM | A public recording of a bet with Rob Westervelt, editor of IHS Chemical Week
A couple weeks ago, I expressed my frustration on Twitter with a USA Today piece that seemed to be an attempt to push younger people into manufacturing careers without a recognition that, over the long term, employment in manufacturing has been falling:"Anyone touting new blue-collar jobs be willing to put $500 down on 10 year trajectory of manufacturing employment?"Rob Westervelt (the editor-in-chief of IHS Chemical Week) asked what the over/under for growth in the manufacturing super-sector […]
10:33 AM | The class warfare of Halloween
What’s the best thing about Halloween, the dress-up or the candy? Or is it the fact that, for that one night, you can go up to people’s houses and ring their bell and talk to them when they answer the door, and if you’re a kid you can even get demand and receive a gift? […]

October 23, 2014

6:23 PM | Denver chemistry teacher charged w/assault for methanol demo
Courtesy of JJ, I see that the chemistry teacher who had a methanol demo go bad on him was charged by the Denver district attorney: A former teacher is being charged in connection with an explosion at a Denver charter school that injured four students, one critically. Daniel Powell, 24, has been served with a summons charging him with four counts of third-degree assault, a class 1 misdemeanor, the Denver District Attorney said in a news release Wednesday. The charges allege that […]
1:56 PM | I find this NYT article just a bit naive
Surely we don't need professors to tell us about hiding information from your colleagues at work: Knowledge-hiding in the workplace is common and takes different forms, some more harmful than others, according to new research by Catherine E. Connelly, an associate business professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and David Zweig, an associate management professor at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. Theirs was not a study of inadvertent communication failures. […]
1:47 PM | Daily Pump Trap: 10/23/14 edition
A few of the positions posted at C&EN Jobs over the past couple of days:Slim pickins: Not too many positions posted.Dhahran, Saudi Arabia: I see Saudi Aramco is hiring for a B.S. chemist position.Chicago, IL: Wheatland Tube is hiring a coatings engineer for steel. I love this line: " This position will report directly to the Corporate Coatings Director, and functionally to the Electrical, Fence, and Mechanical Tube Division Quality Assurance Director." This is a company that loves its […]
10:45 AM | Links (with annotation)
I’ve been heads down writing this week but I wanted to share a bunch of great stuff coming out. Here’s a great interview with machine learning expert Michael Jordan on various things including the big data bubble (hat tip Alan Fekete). I had a similar opinion over a year ago on that topic. Update: here’s […]
10:17 AM | Finding taxis on rainy days
A classic story on the play-list of many behavioural economics presentations is why you can’t find taxis on rainy days. The story is based on the idea that taxi drivers work to an income target. If driver wages are high due to high demand for taxis, such as when it rains, they will reach their income […]

October 22, 2014

8:34 AM | Is payment by diagnosis for dementia a good strategy?
There is a considerable furore surrounding the new proposal to pay GPs £55 for each dementia diagnosis. The Patients Association called it “a step too far” that would mean a “bounty on the head” of some patients (link), while the Daily Mail quoted a GP as describing the programme as ‘an intellectual and ethical travesty.’ Vitriol […]
6:00 AM | Do economists care about patients?
I stand accused. Not of a particularly heinous crime, but of something that has given me pause for thought recently. During a discussion about a piece of work involving patient outcomes, I was accused of ‘thinking like an economist’. Had this come from an economist, it would have been meant in a complementary sense – […]

October 21, 2014

3:39 PM | I've never heard of a "chemistry engineer", Mr. President.
Courtesy of Twitter user @cjt217, I see that the White House (or whichever junior deputy vice associate general special assistant to the President who wrote this letter) has invented a new term for "chemical engineers." Ah, well.(Found in the third or fourth page of the October 13 issue of C&EN.)
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